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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts
Posted: September 20, 2014

First Department Reverses Trial Court Discovery Order

On September 18, 2014, the First Department issued a decision in MSCI Inc. v. Jacob, 2014 NY Slip Op. 06239, reversing a trial court order limiting discovery.

In MSCI Inc., the First Department acknowledged that “[a] trial court is vested with broad discretion in its supervision of disclosure,” that “deference is afforded to the trial court’s discretionary determinations regarding disclosure,” and that the First Department “rarely and reluctantly invoke[s it] power to substitute [its] own discretion for that of the motion court.” (Internal quotations and citations omitted). However, it noted, the First Department “is vested with the power to substitute its own discretion for that of the motion court, even in the absence of abuse.”  (Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).  That is what it did in MSCI Inc.

The details of the discovery dispute in MSCI Inc. (a dispute over trade secrets involving computer source code) are not relevant for this post. The point of this post is simply to note that while a long line of cases show great Appellate Division deference to trial court discovery rulings, the Appellate Division nonetheless continues to exercise its power to substitute its discretion for the trial court’s in discovery disputes.

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